Business, finance and law have long been popular college majors, but another field of study that’s growing in popularity is agriculture.
As our state’s population continues to expand, particularly in urban areas, some may mistakenly think agriculture education is waning. Fortunately, that’s not the case. Nationwide, enrollment in agriculture degree programs increased by 22 percent between 2005 and 2008, from 58,300 students to nearly 71,000, according to USDA.
So what’s the big draw to agriculture, especially for city dwelling students?
One word: jobs.
Agriculture schools are attracting urbanites because many ag-related jobs don’t require students to have a farming background. Students interested in science, biology and technology are drawn to agriculture studies because they know major corporations and state and federal agencies are hiring people with science backgrounds.
In the current economy, with the Texas unemployment rate at a 22-year high of 8 percent and the national unemployment rate hovering around 10 percent, many science and technology companies say their demand for workers is greater than the supply and that they actively recruit students with agricultural science backgrounds. In fact, the Texas A&M University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences says each of its poultry science graduates averages about five job offers.
Advances in science and technology have been tremendous catalysts for increasing the importance of agriculture, which in turn, has increased the popularity of agriculture as a field of study and employment.